Asia Cup 2018: Ban Vs Sri: Veteran Lasith Malinga made a grand comeback to international cricket with a four-for that included twin strikes in the opening over of the match, but Mushifqur Rahim, the diminutive dasher, gave the Bangladesh supporters, who converted Dubai into Dhaka with their vociferous support, and more importantly, his team, the most ideal start to its Asia Cup campaign.
Thanks to Mushfiqur’s career best in ODIs (144 runs, 150b, 11×4, 4×6), aided by a disciplined bowling unit and ordinary batting display by the opposition, Bangladesh thumped Sri Lanka by 137 runs in a Group B tie at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Chasing 262 for a win, Sri Lanka suffered a batting collapse with none of their batsmen showing intent to stay at the crease as they were all out for 124 in 35.2 overs. This was Sri Lanka’s lowest ODI total versus Bangladesh. There was no rotation of strike and no partnership worth the name. The highest partnership for Sri Lanka was the 27 for the eighth wicket.
The momentum that Mushfiqur’s late charge, which saw him score 52 of the 63 runs Bangladesh added in the last 10 overs, had swung in favour of the new-ball bowlers bowling an inspired spell and the Sri Lankan batting line-up heavily reliant on Angelo Mathews crumbled under the pressure. Once Mashrafe Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman had reduced Sri Lanka to 38 for four in the fifth over, it was all but clear that the Tigers would roll over the Lions.
When Mushfiqur took guard six balls into the tournament, Malinga had forced a nick off opener Liton Das’ blade and then crashed through the defence of veteran Shakil Al Hasan off the last two balls of the first over. And even before he saved the hat-trick with a defensive prod off Malinga’s next over, Rahim had lost Tamim who saw the last ball of the second over, bowled by Suranga Lakmal, thump into his wrist and retiring hurt.
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Had Sri Lanka not been sloppy with its catching, with Rahim and Mithun getting a reprieve each, the Lions could have sealed the match before the fielding restrictions were lifted. But the Bangladeshi duo ensured that they made optimum use of lives with a 131-run partnership that brought their team into the game.
The right-handed took full toll on the Lankan spinners. However, just when the batsmen had started to dominate the proceedings, he titled the balance in favour of Sri Lanka yet again. In the 27th over, he got Mithun to mistime a pull for wicket-keeper Kusal Perera to not miss the skier. In his next, Malinga continued his fairytale return to international cricket after a year with Mamudullah giving catching practice to Dhananjya de Silva at covers.
Despite Mushfiqur notching up his sixth international hundred, with little help from the other end, Bangladesh was in a real spot of bother when Mustafizur Rahman fell as the ninth victim in the 47th over. Tamim, having been ruled out of the Asia Cup with a fractured wrist and finger, walked out to join Mushfiqur amidst roars from the fans. With a heavily strapped left wrist and two fingers and four fingers, barring the thumb, popping out of the glove, he survived the solitary ball he faced in the 17-ball 32-run partnership.
Mustafizur cut loose for the next three overs, pulling anything short over the cow corner, despatching one that was pitched up over the covers and even pulling out his innovative scoop over the head of the ‘keeper to help Bangladesh cross 250-mark in no time. It took a diving effort from Kusal Mendis at long-on to deprive Mushfiqur of becoming only the second Bangladeshi batsman to score 150 in an ODI and put the innings to an end.